Khibiny from satellite (40k, jpeg)

The Khibiny Mountains lays between two large lakes: Imandra - at the left and Umbozero - on the right


The Khibiny Mountains, rocky and treeless are situated north of 67-th parallel, beyond the Arctic Circle. This is the highest land mass in the Kola Peninsula the summits of which are dotted 800 - 900 metres above the surrounding hilly plain. The highest point in the Khibiny (Chasnachorr Mountain) is 1191 metres above sea level and is the highest point in the Peninsula. In clear summer weather the Khibiny can be seen from many miles away, from Kandalaksha tundra in the South, the frontier heights of Kovdor in the west and even from the hilly banks of the Voronija River in the North.

After snowstorm

The climate in this part of Russia is peculiar in so far as that thaws are frequent in the winter but in the summer and early autumn frosts are not uncommon, especially in the beginning of June and at the end of August. Winter lasts about seven months every year in the plains and the month longer usually on the mountains but the temperatures are not so low as those in the similar latitudes of Siberia. The climate of Alpine areas is considerable different to those of the nearby lowlands and valleys, for instance, in the plateau Rasvumchorr the winter lasts around 260 days. An average annual temperature is minus 4.3O Centigrade and in the warmest month (July) never climbs past plus 8.2 O. Winds on the plateau are gusty and sharp and can reach a speed of 40 metres per second. Snow storms rage around 190 days a year and daily variations of the atmospheric pressure are very sharp the average being around 644 mm of mercury with an average annual precipitation of 1494 mm of which about 919 mm is snow. Vegetation in the Khibiny Mountains area is disposed into distinct zones. Forests are no higher than 370 forest-tundra zone spreads up to 450 metres, Alpine -- tundra up to 800 metres and beyond this is Arctic desert. The Khibiny is the geographical and industrial centre of the Kola Peninsula region which was in former times a remote outlying district of tsarist Russia, inhabited by severe Pomors and misterious Lapps.

Remote Murman, the "World's End" washed by the waters of the White and Barents Seas was developing slowly only from the coasts, at that time. The first information about Khibiny is reflected in literature concerned with the XIX-th Century Russian academician A. M. Middendorf who in 1840 had noted the uncommonness of rocks forming the mountains. The geologist N. V. Kudriavtsev in 1880 and the expeditions of the Finnish geologist V. Ramsey in 1887 -- 1892 had commenced an exploration of Khibiny but valuable and useful minerals were not found until the XX-th Century. The Russian Government was mainly paying attention to non-freezing harbours of Murman for military Revolution came true. The Civil War came to an end with magnificent victory of the State of Soviets and in February of 1920 the Soviet Power had been re-established on Murman. The balanced exploration of the natural resources of the Kola Peninsula began in the May of 1920 and the Academy of Sciences of the USSR Commission went up North to assess the prospects. Previously an unforeseen route from Imandra railway station to the Khibiny foothills was crowned with the discovery of unknown for science minerals. In the same year the exploitation of the Khibiny had commenced under the guidance of A. E. Fersman, needless to say it was most difficult. "We got down to our work almost without provision, without foot-wear or any special equipment for the expedition", the Academician would write later.

First pieces of apatite ore have been discovered at the foot of Kukisvumchorr mountain in August of 1921 thence the outcrops of this ore were discovered in 1922 within the Apatite Bow where the deposits and widely known layers of Kukisvumchorr, Poachvumchorr, Apatite Circus and Rasvumchorr are located. Geologist's ad already reported about the industrial importance of Khibinyan apatite deposits in 923 but exploitation was not started until 1926. By 1928 they had located over 500 million tons of apatite ore.

The town of Khibinogorsk was also built which at the request of the townsfolk in 1935 was re-named Kirovsk. The speed of development in those days was astonishing as was the speed at which the new town grew. In 1930 population was 500 and in 1932 48.000 and it must be noted that in 1920 the population of the whole of the Kola Peninsula was only 20.000. On September 8, 1931 the first apatite concentrate was produced from the concentrating mill.

The building of the first hydroelectric Power Station Niva on the Kola Peninsula was started in 1930 and on June 30, 1934 the Soviet turbine and generators of the Power station were put into operation. This was the beginning of the glorious history of the electrification of the Kola Peninsula.

Station TIETTA, 1932 (jpeg, 57k)

Mountain Station "TIETTA"

The progress in industrial exploitation of deposits is closely connected with the development of scientific researches. From 1930 on the shore of Lake Maly Wudjavr the construction of the Mining Station TIETTA (in translation from Saami Language it does mean SCIENCE) had been started. By April 10, 1932 the Mining Station with a museum, library and scientific laboratories had been inaugurated. Scientists with academician A. E. Fersman at the head along with his disciples and associates O. A. Vorobjova, E. E. Kostyleva, E. M. Bonshtedt, A. N. Labuntsov and B. M. Kupletsky laid down the foundations of the Kola Peninsula combined researches, but an exploration of the mineral resources remained the main work as before. By 1949 the Kola Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR had been established and the first institute of this Branch, the Geological Research Institute was officially established in 1951 but its history actually started from the TIETTA.

The additional information on the first years of development of Khibiny region with illustrations from a Kirovsk museum is located here


Text: Igor Davidenko

Station TIETTA, 1996 (jpeg, 21k)

And today people remember station ....

Here you can find some images, photographed in Khibiny